Will the outbreak help the merger ?

Match Points is a talk show about tennis, hosted by Josh Cohen for Tennis Majors. In this first episode, he and his guests explained that it was the right moment to merge the ATP and the WTA.

May 3, 2020

Our three guests here are Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, the ATP world number 225 and founder of Behind the Racquet Noah Rubin, and the American tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg. In this first episode, they discussed the possible merger between the ATP and the WTA, and the current tennis governance. 

Will the outbreak help the ATP-WTA merger? That’s one of the questions Josh Cohen asked our three guests. For Noah Rubin, the tennis world has to use this time properly to make the sport evolve.

“I think a pandemic like this highlights the issues we have now. I’ve been talking about this for a while, all of us have. Everybody is sitting on their couches, and answering emails quicker than ever. Logistically speaking, it’s easier to get people on the same page. 

So you are looking at this and the tour hopefully feels a little bit embarrassed about the fact that it’s difficult to make money while playing on tour and now we are in the stage where we are not making money. You can’t defend the players.

In my head, this is the rock bottom scenario where you have to change and evolve. You have to make sure because after a pandemic like this, societies or civilizations, they crumble or they evolve. You take one or another. It won’t be the same after this. We have to utilise this time to bring the incredible brands around us and everybody. Take everybody involved and see how we can grow and evolve.”

The unification of the ATP and the WTA has been discussed on the tour for a while, says our expert Patrick Mouratoglou, who recently launched the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, a brand new league to serve as “laboratory” for the future of tennis.

“From what I understand, ATP and WTA see a great advantage and a great vision in delivering one product, one common product for tennis. And it’s also probably the opportunity to look at the format of tennis which is something that hasn’t been discussed for so many years. And maybe, think about a new product that would be more adapted for the business of tennis to grow. Because it’s a huge business, potentially, with a billion fans around the planet.” 

If it is to happen, Ben Rothenberg thinks it will take time to be carried out. And he reminds that it would only be a first step, as tennis governance also involves the Grand Slams and the ITF.

This is a great beginning that ATP and WTA can merge and become one organisation. It’s still a long way off. It’s only the first step. Those are only two of the seven seats of the big table of tennis. It will take a lot more from the other five to be able to get on the same page.

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